Multi award-winning professional photographer Damian McGillicuddy’s images show a craftsmanship and attention to detail that is second to none. Here he reveals some of the secrets behind his successful career.
There can’t be many professional photographers that can claim the same level of recognition from his peers as Damian McGillicuddy. In a career spanning over 30 years, Damian has received around 700 international awards, including ten fellowships and a double masters.
Specialising in portraiture in its many forms, from babies to fashion to artistic nudes, Damian’s images show a craftsmanship and attention to detail that is second to none. From composition through to styling and lighting, every element is captured in his own distinctive style. His success is made even more remarkable by the fact he was made to leave art school, as it was felt he’d never make it as a photographer!
“In fairness, being kicked out was the motivation I needed to succeed” reveals Damian. “I was 16 when I left art school and I thought, ‘Right, I’m going to prove them wrong’. To be honest if I knew back then what I know now then I would never have bothered, but it was the arrogance of youth!”
“When I first started talking about photography, it was mainly about sales and marketing, because back then I had double the average wedding sales of everyone else. This was because I didn’t know to conform, so while everyone was showing clients proof albums, I was inviting them into my studio, projecting their images and treating them like portrait clients.” However, while his early career had got off to a successful start, Damian acknowledges that his photography needed improving. “I can remember vividly what made me a better photographer,” he recalls. “It was when I was 21 and I heard a couple of people at a photo committee say that it was lucky that I was good at sales and marketing, because my photography was poor – although they actually used another four-letter word to describe it. In truth they were right. I had remortgaged my house and gone on a photo course costing £25,000 – bear in mind this was back in 1989 – it was a complete rip-off. Rather than return to my family and admit failure, I went to the library and studied everything I could to improve myself. I studied and practised and honed my skills and worked hard at raising my standards. At the next committee meeting several months later, I saw the expressions on the same faces that had criticised me and knew my efforts had been worth it.”
The rest as they say is history and Damian has continued to develop his style while enjoying a successful photographic career.
Damian’s involvement with Olympus came about following years of having used the Olympus Micro Four Thirds system. “I’m keen to point out that the only reason I use Olympus OM-D cameras is because I want to. I invested into the Olympus system long before they approached me – the build quality and handling is second to none and I’d go as far as to say the compact size and light weight of the camera bodies and lenses saved my career. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is the pinnacle of the Micro Four Thirds system and I can’t praise it enough – it handles beautifully, the autofocus system can’t be faulted and the image quality is absolutely superb. It is everything I could want, or need, and more.”
Article featured in Digital SLR Photography Magazine in April 2017